Natural and organic living with a baby
If you want a greener lifestyle there are quite a few ways to create a more natural living environment with your baby or toddler.
At a glance
Consider more eco-friendly versions of household basics
Blackout blinds and white noise can be used to combat light and noise pollution
There are lots of small steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprints
Second-hand is greener than buying new
Living a more natural life and being aware of your carbon footprint doesn’t have to go on hold once you bring a new set of mini footprints into the world. Of course, you’ve got a million things to think about now and your first priority is to make sure your family is happy and healthy. However there are some relatively simple, fun ways to create a more organic, natural living environment for you all.
When it comes to your little eco-warrior-in-the-making, it might be a few years before they start trying to save the planet themselves. For now though there are a few easy things you can do for them (and you). Check that wherever possible their toys, teething rings, bowls, and dummies are made from more environmentally friendly materials such as wood and natural rubber. Some particularly pro-active eco-mums have put together helpful environmentally-friendly baby registries which you can find online.
One of the most effective things you can do to reduce your family’s carbon footprint is also one of the easiest... just stay put. Well, just take fewer car and plane journeys if you can. Of course you’ll probably need to drive sometimes, but just reducing the number of car journeys you make in a year will make a big difference. The same is true of plane journeys. Taking one fewer transatlantic flight, for example, saves between 0.7 and 2.8 tonnes of CO2 per person per year. That’s not to say you can’t have a holiday, but going somewhere closer to home or travelling by train rather than flying is a great way to help the environment.
You could also try replacing certain household essentials with more eco-friendly, homemade alternatives. Did you know that bicarbonate of soda is a great, cheap, non-aerosol alternative to deodorant? It works because many of the things that cause body odours are acidic and the alkaline bicarb cancels them out.
Now if you don’t fancy giving up your armpit spray, you could try swapping to eco-friendly bin bags. The fact is, having a young child inevitably leads to some extra waste (mainly a certain kind), but if the bag you throw it away in is environmentally friendly you can offset some of that extra rubbish. After all, plastic bags are a big cause for environmental concern. While we’re on the subject, if you aren’t already doing so, you could think about reusing carrier bags where possible. It might not seem like a big change, but every little goes a long way.
Time to wind down
Lots of us live in homes filled with technology which can make it hard to wind down. Children do well with a bit of winding down time, however, and one way of establishing sleep cues is to have quiet time beforehand. You could lower the lights and play natural sounds such as waves or birdsong. Not only will they enjoy it, you’ll probably find it soothing too.
Children, especially babies, need to establish their circadian rhythm – their natural day/night sleep cycle – and too much or too little light from outside can affect this. With that in mind you can try ‘wake up’ or ‘daylight’ bulbs to simulate dawn when it’s overcast outside. Blackout blinds work a treat, especially in the bright summer evenings or for a day-time nap.
You might already know this, but babies like a bit of white noise when they’re sleeping. After all, they’re used to living in a noisy womb, and the white noise makes them feel at home. White noise is also good for masking unwanted background noise like loud traffic or your not-so-neighbourly neighbours. You can even buy cute toys that emit white noise when you switch them on, or you can simply find white noise videos online and play them through a stereo or mini-speakers connected to a phone.
Nature’s a great form of entertainment whether you’re simply rambling in the garden (if you’re lucky enough to have one) or taking a trip to the local park. If you live in a big city there could be an urban farm to explore and introduce your little chicken to the sheep, pigs, and goats. They’ll soon be mooing and baaing all over the place.
When you’re trying to be more mindful of nature, food is bound to be a factor. There’s a lot of organic stuff out there, but how do you know which is worth buying? Well, one important thing to check is that it’s certified organic. Look for products labelled as ‘organic’, that display the little EU Green Leaf organic logo on their packaging.
Out with the new, in with the old
Finally, one of the best things you can do to help the environment once you have a baby is to spend less. Mmm, sounds good already. Instead of buying everything new, consider going second-hand wherever you feel comfortable doing so. Second-hand prams, chairs, and even toys are all perfectly fine. ‘Hand-me-downs’ from friends and family are a great way of both avoiding waste and bonding with your nearest and dearest. You can extend this second-hand philosophy to the rest of your life too and achieve some great shabby chic effects by buying used furniture and ‘upcycling’ it. Giving a wooden chair a new lick of paint, for example, or replacing the handles on a vintage dresser. A stylish home that saves you money and helps the environment. Ah, that’s the dream.